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10 Nutrient-Rich Super Foods

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WebMD Expert Column

You’ve heard it a million times: The best way to stay healthy is to eat a wide variety of vitamin-rich foods. But eating a wide variety of foods can sometimes be difficult in our on-the-go culture.

Enter super foods. These are the Michael Jordans of the food world. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which minimize the cell damage that may lead to heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases. Eating them can help you feel more assured that you’re getting what you need from your diet.

Super Foods or Supplements

Many people believe that they need to take pricey dietary supplements to get all the vitamins and minerals they need. But nutrients work best in your body when you get them the natural way: in the amounts found in foods and balanced with other nutrients.

A high dose of one vitamin or mineral from a supplement can interfere with how your body absorbs or uses another important vitamin or mineral.

For example, high-dose iron supplements can cause your body to not absorb as much zinc as you may need. And not getting enough zinc can cause problems with some key functions of the immune system. On the other hand, too much zinc can interfere with copper absorption.

Another problem is that supplements can interact or interfere with medications such as antibiotics and diuretics.

Nutrient-dense super foods offer a better bang for your buck. Most of our top 10 are healthy foods that also have hidden benefits. Eat them every day to boost your intake of vitamins, minerals, and other key nutrients that benefit the body and the immune system.

Super Food 1: Purple, Red, and Blue Grapes

Grapes, especially dark-colored ones, are loaded with phytochemicals, antioxidants that may help protect against cancer and heart disease. Two of those phytochemicals, anthocyanin and proanthocyanidin, may be especially good for your immune system. Grapes also contain vitamin C and selenium.

Super Food 2: Blueberries

Recent animal studies suggest that blueberries may help protect cells from damage and lower inflammation. Blueberries contain many of the vitamins and minerals known to strengthen the immune system, along with key phytochemicals that may help protect against cancer and heart disease.

Super Food 3: Red Berries

Berries, especially raspberries and strawberries, contain ellagic acid, another phytochemical that may help protect against cancer-causing agents in the diet and the environment.

Super Food 4: Nuts

Nuts are one of the most balanced foods on the planet. They offer a good dose of “healthy” fats along with a smaller amount of protein and carbohydrate. Each type of nut offers a unique profile of minerals, phytochemicals, and types of fat. Walnuts are the highest in plant omega-3s, for example, while Brazil nuts are best for selenium.

Most nuts also contain phytochemicals such as resveratrol and plant sterols, which help lower cholesterol.

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